Kim Jong Il’s Whistle Stop Tour in China by Jeremy Paltiel

[Was the recent visit by Kim Jong Il to China a resounding failure, as reported in the South Korean press? CanKor Brain Trust member Jeremy PaltielProfessor at Carleton University in Ottawa, summarizes his take on the trip based on Korean and Chinese sources. –CanKor.]

The woman in a yellow jacket is thought to be Kim Jong-il’s fourth wife Kim Ok at a banquet in the Great Hall of the People in Bejing, 25 May 2011. (Captured from CCTV Yonhap)

Kim Jong-Il’s third tribute mission to his Chinese patron in less than a year took place between May 20 and May 26. Once again, the head of North Korea’s Kim family holding company toured sites of China’s economic success in Jilin, Heilongjiang and Jiangsu provinces, and met with all the members of the Standing Committee of the CCP Politbureau. Chinese media did not give any special reason for this unofficial visit but instead carried the speculative reports coming from South Korean media outlets. As Chinese official media normally do not carry news of Kim’s official tours until he has safely crossed the frontier of his own country, this quaint courtesy to Kim’s sensibilities was undermined this time around when the People’s Daily sister publication Global Times carried a report citing “South Korean sources” that Kim Jong-il was indeed in China.

While there was much speculation that Kim was seeking to pave the way for his third son Kim Jong-Un’s succession, newly-minted General did not accompany his father. Instead, Kim Jong-il was accompanied by his brother in law Jang Kai-Taek, and more unusually his current consort,Kim Ok whose picture surfaced at the Beijing banquet, seated next to Hu Jintao’s top foreign policy advisor, Dai Bingguo. (See Kim Jong-il calls for early resumption of six-party talks.) Read the rest of this entry »

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